If your child has better eye-to-hand co-ordination then he or she is more likely to achieve higher scores in reading, writing and maths, a new study has found.
The findings, published in the journal Psychological Science, raises the possibility that schools could provide extra support to children who are clumsy.
“The study identifies the important relationship between a child’s ability to physically interact with their environment and their cognitive development, those skills needed by the child to think about and understand the world around them,” said co-author Mark Mon-Williams, Professor at the University of Leeds in Britain.
For the study, the researchers examined over 300 children aged 4 to 11, who took part in computer tasks to measure their co-ordination and interceptive timing — their ability to interact with a moving object.
The tasks designed to measure eye-to-hand coordination involved steering, taking aim and tracking objects on a computer screen.
In the ‘interceptive timing’ task, the children had to hit a moving object with an on-screen bat. This task taps into a fundamental cognitive ability — how the brain predicts the movement of objects through time and space.
The researchers suggest that this skill may have provided the evolutionary foundations for the emergence of cognitive abilities related to mathematics.
After controlling for age, the researchers found that the children who did better at the eye-to-hand coordination tasks tended to have higher academic attainment in reading, writing, and maths.
Those with the best performance at the ‘steering task’ in particular were on average nine months ahead of classmates who struggled.
“The results show that eye-to-hand co-ordination and interceptive timing are robust predictors of how well young children will perform at school,” Mon-Williams noted.